Baht, Riel, Dong, Kip, Kyat, The Mighty Dollar, ATMs that charge, ATMs that don’t, ATMs that aren’t ATMs, Western Unions, street corner currency exchanges, stolen cards…
Managing money while travelling across South East Asia (we’ll call this SEA for now) can and will make your head hurt. You’re navigating a number of different currencies with wildly different exchange rates, the countries’ have an (often unfair) reputation for fraud and theft, your contactless card is suddenly of no use and single streets can appear to house ten different micro-economies.
This, however, shouldn’t stop you from visiting the world’s original backpacker destination. You just need to a bit of forward planning. You just need to write five custom-made blogs on how to manage your money in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
You don’t have the time, you say? You’re too busy buying a mosquito net that you’re never going to use, you yell? Well, fear not. We’ve done the research for you and put together this collection of handy blogs. We’ve consulted the experts, the WeSwap family and the extended WeSwap family (the travellers themselves) to get the low down on exchange rates, ATMs, whether you should use cash or card and then thrown in some top tips to help you get the most out of each and every Baht, Riel, Dong, Kip and Kyat (and dollars, as you’ll see).
The collection is now live and all the blogs can be found here:
GENERAL SOUTHEAST ASIA MONEY MANAGEMENT TIPS
Haggling and bartering are a part of day-to-day life across SEA so prepare to spend a lot of time doing this. Just remember to stay polite and that sometimes that tiny amount your haggling over just for sport could mean a lot more to the vendor than you.
Be wary of borders
Try and avoid really remote border crossings as this is where surprise ‘fees’ suddenly appear, taking a great big chunk of your budget in the process.
Get a tight grip on those exchange rates
With so many currencies in use and many countries operating with two or three, it’s good to try and get a hang of the exchange rates in advance to avoid being caught out.
Cash is King
Despite an abundance of ATMs, cash is still king across South East Asia. With WeSwap travellers using 72% cash in Thailand and a whopping 92% in Cambodia. So always make sure you’ve got a wad on you. As you will need to get cash out often opt for a card that gives you free ATM withdrawals, you will likely still face fees from the actual ATM but at least your not paying twice.
When it comes to exchanging money, wherever possible use official exchange stores and banks. As with most things in life, men in allies are to be avoided.
Arrange fees in advance
Taxis, tours, tuk-tuks… whatever it is, arrange the fee in advance. It seems obvious but just one error like this could take quite the wedge out of your travel savings.
If it seems too good to be true…
And finally… get insured
Not the sexiest of travel planning activities, but something that could potentially save your trip. Medical fees or card fraud can end up bankrupting you while away so make sure you’re insured out of your ears to avoid ending up on the runway of Bangkok airport trying to hitchhike a plane home.